The town hall meeting is to politics; It’s ubiquitous, omnipresent, and just will not go quietly into the night despite massive shifts in the way that political campaigns have started to conduct themselves in the last decade.
Just because the concept itself is recycled doesn’t mean that your town halls have to sound like it. In fact, here a few things that any sensible campaigner can do to update their campaign style town hall for 2016.
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Promote your event across #allthechannels
It’s just one week before your town hall and you better be asking yourself, “Have the people I want to be at my town hall heard about the event?”
Ads, emails, texts, phone calls, and posts about your event should be deployed mercilessly if you want anyone to show up.
Make sure your online promotions are leading folks back to your NationBuilder event page and asking users to RSVP! Be sure to follow up with these folks and ask them to share the information about the town hall with their networks.
Remember: real humans who are excited about an event are your best spokespeople to their friends.
It has to be so easy to participate that you can join by accident.
The hard truth is the vast majority of the people you need to reach will start from a place of nearly zero cares about spending their Wednesday night listening to your candidate or organization talk about some political stuff.
Choosing the right format and technology to deliver your town hall is as important as disseminating instructions and links well across your different channels.
If your system sucks and is laggy nobody is going to stick around to listen to anything you have to say so make sure that your tech needs are up to par to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted town hall.
Don’t wait until the start of your event to amplify your message.
It's easy to get trapped into thinking that the only good time to talk about your event is while it is actually happening, and while you don’t want to let any cats out of any bags it’s never too early to start hyping your message.
It can be simple as a single-question poll sent to your lists right before your live event in order to draw casual observers who may not have RSVPed into interacting with your content.
Like real live in-person town halls, one of the coolest parts of any live online experience is the feeling that you are really having a big conversation with a diverse group of people across vast distances. Creating sufficient pre-event buzz online gives notice to the internet that your town hall is a social digital event that they can enjoy along with other folks and that there will be a promise of user-generated content and interactions.
Pix or it didn’t happen
Even the best town hall experience online will be greatly hampered by the traditional drawbacks of special one-time events, raising the time honoured question: If your candidate comes off as extremely relatable but nobody is around to see it did it even really happen?
Planning to capture key moments in video, GIF, infographic, or picture quote format is indispensable to a useful town hall. No matter your how excellent promotion was there will always be infinitely more people who did not attend your town hall than actually did.
If the message that you want people to receive from the experience doesn’t exist in a format that can be easily shared by supporters, the knowledge of it will be forever banished to the sliver of space and time in which it took place.
This of course affords you the added benefit of being able to cut, edit, and polish the performance down to the exact message you want to have front and centre.
Note: These examples are drawn (obviously) from the Saskatchewan NDP and the Telephone Townhalls were organized by the campaign and their voter contact vendor and our often-collaborator Stratcom.